FLIP NC was founded in January 2017, the week Trump was inaugurated, when a group of friends got together at a bar to drown our sorrows – and to figure out wtf we were going to do about it.
We’d attended our share of Moral Mondays, protesting the regressive, anti-democratic policies of our illegitimate, GOP-controlled state legislature over the past several years, but it took Trump’s ascension to the White House for us to do more than chant and wave signs.
So if Trump is what finally drove us to take action, why does the state legislature remain FLIP NC’s primary focus?
NC is the Canary in the Coal Mine. The regressive, anti-democratic policies we’re seeing at the national level have been happening in North Carolina for nearly a decade.
In 2010, the GOP implemented a strategy called REDMAP, aimed at taking over state legislatures across the country ahead of decennial redistricting. Republicans won a slight majority in both chambers of our state legislature and then followed the national plan to a tee, using their new majorities to draw legislative and congressional maps that strongly favor the GOP.
With their new, heavily slanted maps, the GOP gained supermajorities in both chambers of the NCGA in 2012 and an impenetrable 10-3 advantage in Congress by 2014. And they’ve used their supermajority in our state legislature to pass a series of incredibly harmful – and sometimes unconstitutional – legislation.
Flipping one chamber of the NCGA would have a huge impact at the national level. The state legislature is fully responsible for drawing both our legislative AND congressional maps; in North Carolina, the governor can’t veto them. Before new maps are drawn in 2021 following the 2020 Census, North Carolina will pick up a 14th congressional seat due to population growth. With fair maps and an evenly divided congressional delegation, our purple state could go from 3 Democrat-held congressional seats to 7 – a 4-seat gain!
Our state legislature has a significant effect on our daily lives. Our legislators decide whether teachers are adequately paid and whether our public education system is properly funded. They make decisions about our health care system, like whether to expand Medicaid (or not – they rejected billions of dollars in federal funds along with the massive benefits it would mean for our state’s economy and for the half a million North Carolinians Medicaid expansion would insure). They decide whether to allow corporations to spray hog waste into our air and whether to hold them accountable when they prioritize their profits over a safe and healthy environment for the rest of us. They make laws about who can get a gun and where they can carry it, who goes to jail and for how long, and who gets a say in women’s health care decisions.
We need our time and efforts to truly make a difference. As the GOP works to dismantle our institutions of government at every level, it’s hard to know where to focus. When our small group first gathered at that Durham bar, we felt overwhelmed by the scope and scale of it all (and it’s only gotten worse!). But we knew we couldn’t just put our heads in the sand. Saving our democracy means all of us doing our part to fight back. And there’s no time to waste. We need to make sure we’re having a real, tangible impact.
We’re focusing on the NCGA because it’s where we, as grassroots volunteers, can have the biggest impact on our future. Many state legislative races are won by slim margins, so just a few committed volunteers can affect the outcomes in these races.
In 2018, we flipped 10 seats in the NC House and 6 seats in the NC Senate, breaking the Republican supermajority in BOTH chambers of the NCGA and restoring Gov. Cooper’s veto. We’re now feeling the effects of progress as the new Democratic coalition has banded together to stop harmful legislation from passing.
But, while breaking the supermajority has helped stop the most egregious legislation, it’s not enough. In 2020, we need to break the majority in at least one chamber, and that means flipping 6 more seats in the NC House or 5 more seats in the NC Senate AND holding onto all the seats we just flipped. The future of our state – for at least the next decade – depends on it.
That means we have a lot to do in 2020. We need to flip one chamber of our state legislature, reelect Governor Cooper, oust Senator Tillis (R), and flip NC blue in the presidential election. These are lofty but achievable goals. We can do it, but it will take all of us, and the time to start is NOW.
Ready to help us FLIP NC? Click here to get involved!